Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 2018: Can you do all the HHN28 mazes in one night?
By Helen Wright
Home safe and sound from opening night and locked in our room at the new Aventura hotel with the serious heebie-jeebies, we thought we’d share a few tips and tricks on how to maximize your time at HHN28. Don’t say we’re not good to you! The million dollar question is this: Can you do all the Halloween Horror Nights 2018 houses in one night? We gave it our best shot – find out more below!
THE BEST WAY TO SEE ALL THE HOUSES at HHN28
As always, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights was a riot. I’ve been to opening night at HHN for the last five years and the adrenalin, excitement and anticipation sizzles like a Brit in the Florida sun. There are 10 haunted mazes/houses to ‘enjoy’ this year. There are some heavy hitting branded mazes – Halloween 4, the much-anticipated Stranger Things and the one we were most excited about, Poltergeist. (MAN that film freaked me out as a kid!) None disappointed and Stranger Things probably came out the favourite here, even though we also loved the theming of Seeds of Extinction and Scary Tales, as they were fantastic. Then, you have the return of some fan favourites – The Horrors of BlumHouse, Trick ‘r’ Treat and Dead Exposure: Patient Zero which have been refreshed with a twist.
Dead Exposure was the surprise hit for us. The theme is that you are given a vaccine to go blind and so the VERY dark house was extra terrifying, with scareactors dressed completely in black with only UV accents, camouflaged into the walls. You could only see them when the lights flashed, making for some very sudden and heart skipping moments. We also loved Poltergeist as the references to the original film were spot on. I was obsessed with looking at all the attention to detail and ended up screaming the whole way around because there was so much going on. Our least favourite maze was probably Trick r Treat. There were some sinister parts, and of course it was still an incredible horror maze, but it felt very short and even though it’s the most ‘halloween’ looking house of them all for some reason it just didn’t really do it for me.
WHAT IS A SCARE ZONE AT HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS?
There are also five scare zones this year. For HHN newcomers, these are public areas you pass through as you make your way around the park, each with a cast of ‘scareactors’ and some sinister surprises hidden within them. One commonly asked question is whether the characters touch you at HHN and the answer is no. They may accidently graze you or come very close but it is not usually the case that the actors make physical contact with guests. 2018’s offering includes the, always fun, Killer Klowns from Outta Space, Twisted Tradition (an ancient curse, which is always the prettiest zone), The Harvest and Revenge of Chucky. But, our definite favourite this year – the fabulously kitsch Vamp ’85 New Year’s Eve party. I LOVED this zone. If it wasn’t for the dreaded zombies I could have partied here all night!
WHAT RIDES ARE OPEN DURING HHN28?
The rides open during HHN28 this year are Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (which is even better in the dark than during the day), Men In Black: Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers 3D, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts, (in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley) and the newest attraction at the park, Fast and Furious: Supercharged.
Have you heard of the Frequent Fear Pass?
We’re not going to lie – with more attractions than ever before, getting around ALL the mazes, scare zones and rides in one night is going to be difficult. We never want to promise the impossible and so, disappointingly, we have to warn you that with a regular entrance ticket it is likely NOT possible… We spotted line times for Stranger Things right up into the 150 minute zone. If you’re coming to Florida from the UK and in Orlando for a while during HHN’s reign, it is worth upgrading to the Frequent Fear Pass, which, at prices starting from £99 is only slightly more expensive than a one night pass on the door and will give you unlimited access to Halloween Horror Nights for a two week period – which is amazing. This way, you can come back as often as you want and head back to your favourite house, or to the one that had an impossibly long line, first, before the crowds arrive. (Just so you know, ALL Halloween Horror Nights passes need to be purchased separately to your regular entry tickets to Universal Orlando). There is more information on regular park tickets here.
However, if you are are hardcore and still keen to do all the HHN28 mazes in one night, there are some ways to get maximum scares during your visit.
Halloween Horror Nights 2018 Express Passes
There are two main ways to make sure you tick off all the houses on day one. First up, Halloween Horror Nights Express Passes are available to buy on Universal Orlando online and in the park priced from $79.99 per person + tax. This is in addition to your entrance ticket and valid for one night only. It is worth noting that these tickets are limited availability and can / usually do sell out. Plus, they become more expensive the fewer there is remaining. So if you know you want to hit the ground running and get on everything at least once, whilst it seems like another extra cost, I highly recommend it. Even if you have given up on seeing all the houses in one night, having the Express Pass means you can enjoy the event at a more leisurely pace. Bear in mind that on busy nights you will still encounter some lines and wait times with the Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass (just not as lengthy as the standby line). As an estimate, this will be half the time you would usually queue per attraction. After 28 years as the world’s leading fright night, Halloween Horror Nights is very popular!
For a sneak peek – watch our HHN28 video!
Halloween VIP passes – The R.I.P pass
Finally, for the ultimate terror extravaganza, you can go for the R.I.P Tour. With this, you will join a small group and get a V.I.P tour of the event. This includes front-of-line entry to the houses (once per house with a guide) and V.I.P park entrance, and valet parking for one vehicle. Due to extra security checks in place – believe me, free valet parking and speedy entrance is a HUGE perk. You can also enjoy a pre-tour drinks reception, access to exclusive cash bars and a Universal Express Unlimited access to all open rides after the tour (sadly not the mazes). Even though the disclaimer does say that entry to all attractions is dependent on itinerary and not guaranteed, this is pretty much the best way to get on everything without any hassle – even though it comes at a price. This is what we did, and yes, it is probably the only way you stand a chance of hitting all the HHN28 mazes in one day. R.I.P Tour prices start from $159.00 + tax per person and do not include entry to the event.
Can you do all mazes in one night?
Okay, you’ve got this far. You’re committed to this – he who dares and all that. You’re determined to attempt all 10 mazes in one night and so we doff our souvenir baseball cap to you, fearless themeparker. If you want to see all 10 mazes (and some rides) in one night, this is how to do it:
Ready, set, ghoul…
What time to arrive at Halloween Horror nights HHN28
The park closes for regular hours at 5pm and if you are already inside the gates from a day exploring the park, you will be asked to wait in a restricted holding area so staff can get set up for the evening’s festivities. Being in here may give you a little edge on those entering from the main gate, depending on location, but guests here are not given any other early entrance privileges. Just a quick mention to say that if you want to enter Universal Orlando during the day, a separate entrance ticket is required in addition to your HHN28 pass.
If you aren’t entering from the holding area I recommend you arrive at the park 1-2 hours before the event opens. Horror fans take this very seriously and so you will see groups start to gather around this time. Collect your tickets from the window if you need to and be in line ready for the green light. Buying your Halloween Horror Nights tickets in the UK and opting for the Frequent Fear Pass at Attraction Tickets Direct means you will already have your tickets with you as these are issued from the UK and sent to you before you travel. This year, HHN28 opens at 7pm.
Best way to go when you enter the park
Like the heroine in any good slasher flick… RUN
Okay, so quick disclaimer, the most popular house this year is Stranger Things. So if, by the magic of Harry Potter meets Dr Seuss, you are among the first 100/200 people in, disregard the below temporarily and leg it to Stranger Things and tick that off the list. Then, pick up here asap…
Before we start, familiarise yourself with this detailed map of the park during the event.. You can also view an interactive map by downloading the official Universal Orlando app.
THE HORRORS OF BLUMHOUSE
Yes this maze (E) on the map is the furthest from the gate but in our wholly unscientific (yet effective) research, we found this to be the most successful strategy for HHN28. Get through the gates, turn right along Hollywood Blvd, don’t be distracted by toffee apples, beer vans and clowns wielding chainsaws and get to the back of the park (Near the Men In Black attraction) as fast as you can.
This house combines two modern horror films, The Original Purge and Happy Death Day so you will see those recreated in the house and experience your own horrific groundhog day while being hunted by the Purge psychos. This is a great house to start with – especially for HHN newcomers. It’s one of the tamer houses and a good way to ease you in.
Now, get straight over to the next two mazes…
SLAUGHTER SINEMA and DEAD EXPOSURE
Hey man, there is no rest for the wicked… Exit straight onto the approach to Slaughter Sinema (F) for a drive-in horror fest. This house has a great theme – it is actually set at a Drive-in movie theatre and the maze features 80s B-movie slasher flicks that were never made. Insider knowledge here – the films you see in the house (there is a poster for each as you enter each room) are Halloween Horror Nights maze ideas from the creators of the event over the years that never got made. So, I think the creative team at Universal Orlando were having a little bit of fun with this one. There are PLENTY of jumpy moments and this was possibly the maze where I personally was jumped out at and scared the most.
Oh hey, we’re not done yet! Right next door is manic zombie zone, Dead Exposure (G). I wasn’t sure about this one at first. A deadly virus in Paris has made us all go blind so we can only see black and the odd flash of light and movement. Well, let me tell you, this was one of the surprise hits of the whole night and a contender for my favourite house! The actors, who are dressed in black with just a hint of UV neon on their costumes, blend into the wall and it is SO dark that they are virtually standing next to you before you even spot them. This is different to the other houses where you can see them coming from further away and is incredibly effective. I absolutely loved this house. I can’t tell you much about what it looked like inside because I was busy screaming and trying to escape!
What a way to kick off the night! Providing you are still alive (hehe), we’re allowing you a little break here and those who fancy it can ride Men In Black – Alien Attack which is always fun. Or, if like me, you’re in need of a stiff drink by this point, there is a bar in this corner to rehydrate and get your breath back. But not for long… (Just FYI, if you’re serious about doing as many mazes as possible, we probably would skip all the rides but, it’s your party!)
Next, head back toward the park entrance, passing through the Twisted Tradition and Revenge of Chucky scare zones. The Halloween 4: The return of Michael Myers maze (J) is situated in the lot next to Transformers 3D, although we don’t recommend you ride on that right now. Halloween is always a favourite with fans and this movie was one of the first ever true horror franchises that we watched as kids so I was immediately sucked in. There are more terrifying Michaels than ever before but this house gets its edge from ‘that’ iconic music. Creepy!
If you didn’t get to this year’s show home, Stranger Things (A) when you first entered the park, now’s when to join the queue. This is around the time of the evening where many people stop for a bit of food or a drink and the lines take a dip. Plus the fab Academy of Villans, Cyberpunk dance show is on twice around this time, taking away some of the crowds. Strike while the iron is hot and explore Hawkings, Indiana. And, WOW, I wasn’t sure if the hype around this house, which was designed alongside the original show creators and Netflix, was going to spoil it somehow but it exceeded all expectations! It is absolutely fantastic, and if you do have to queue, worth waiting for. Real audio from season one of Stranger Things is heard throughout and the actors are incredibly similar to the real cast. All the big scenes are included – the room with the fairy lights, the upside-down and Hawkings lab and you become totally immersed in the theme. There are more than a few shocks from the Demogorgon too. What an absolute triumph. Well done Universal Orlando, fans are going to lose there minds in here. We applaud you.
If you’re keen on riding the rides too – take this chance for a quick whizz round on Hollywood’s Rip Ride Rockit in the dark, which is very cool. This area is also home to Scare Zone K – The Harvest, where I paused to take a little rest and the bush I was standing next too was actually alive. So, there went my dinner!
You’re half way through! Hooray! At this point of the night our Fitbit registered at 10,000 steps already! Think of all the extra Halloween candy you can eat!
CARNIVAL GRAVEYARD and POLTERGEIST
Still with us? Have some sugar, keep your energy up! This corner of the park has a lot packed in – which is handy on tired legs. Firstly, go to Carnival Graveyard (B) a very cool fairground / circus themed house. There are ‘Carnies’ who chase you with chainsaws and some brilliant rooms in the maze – in particular, one that smells of sugar and toffee apples and features a possessed figure in lederhosen eating someone’s guts.
Right next door is Poltergeist (D) – one of the more unique houses. This, like last year’s The Shining, is one of the houses that isn’t very dark and so the scares come from clever themes and use of light and music. All the key scenes are recreated in the house, including the evil clown toy, the ancient graveyard, Carolann being trapped in the TV and more. The best thing about Poltergeist were some additional special effects, such as the fact it was raining inside! Plus, some of the rooms are freezing cold to enhance the feel of a poltergeist, as well as strong winds too – which really makes you feel like an extra in the movie. We were very excited about this maze and it was absolutely excellent.
SCARYTALES: DEADLY EVER AFTER
Finally, enter a twisted fairytale that is no magic kingdom, Scarytales (C) where you’re on the run from deranged storybook characters. And you thought the clowns were bad! This has got some huge and dramatic sets, and is (weirdly) a very beautiful house, inhabited with some ugly souls…
Need a little rest? (We did). Depending on the queue length, a dash on The Revenge of The Mummy (one of my favourite rides) wouldn’t go amiss here.
In this area, you will also pass through my favouite of the Scare Zones, Vamp ’85 New Year’s Eve. I loved this zone. The kitch 80s outfits, some classic tunes (they were playing Thriller when we arrived, of course!) and a fun vibe with cool characters that aren’t too mean… so you might be able to get a photo with one!
ACADEMY OF VILLANS: CYPER PUNK
Some people don’t bother with the show because they are hell bent on experiencing all the horrors outside. But others enjoy the opportunity to have a little sit down and a breather from all the screaming. This cool street dance troupe have got some serious moves and the high energy show is an opportunity to regroup without losing your adrenalin.
Now, would also be the time to ride Escape From Gringotts and Fast and Furious: Supercharged if you are a fan.
Okay, it’s getting late but there are still two more murderous mazes left and we have faith – you can do it!
SEEDS OF EXTINCTION AND TRICK ‘R TREAT
Heading back to the other side of the park, prepare to brave the seriously creepy Killer Klowns from Outta Space scare zone. These guys aren’t jumping out at you but more floating about as you pass through, which is somehow even more weird! As you pass around the west side of the water, you can also nip on to Transformers 3D if you fancy.
On the way to the final two mazes you will also encounter the Twisted Tradition scare zone, which is the prettiest one with trees full of jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins everywhere. Some rotten…
Seeds of Extinction (H) and Trick ‘r Treat (I) are snuggled in by E.T. Adventure but don’t expect a sweet and cosy end to the night. Seeds of Extinction takes place in a world where all humans are gone and evil plants are running the show. Sure. I actually loved this maze which had a grubby greenhouse smell and very clever use of puppetry for the scares. Trick’r’Treat was my least favourite maze. I liked the look of the maze but there were less scares and it felt very short. Although, by this point it could just be the fact we had survived ten houses and aged 20 years…
And there you have it! HHN18 – that’s a wrap!
We really hope you enjoyed our guide to Halloween Horror Nights and found it helpful! Give us a shout out on Twitter if you did!
For this event, we travelled to Orlando with Virgin Atlantic and Universal Orlando Resort. Enjoy seven nights at Universal Orlando Resort with Virgin Holidays, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick direct to Orlando, with accommodation at Universal’s Aventura Hotel from £1165pp. The price is for two adults on a room-only basis with car hire included. The package includes a Universal 3-park Explorer Ticket and admission to Halloween Horror nights.
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I had an amazing trip to #Orlando this week. I first went to @universalorlando in 1992, a year after it opened, when I was 12. (Jaws was my favourite ride). I could never have guessed how many opportunities would arise for me here, how many friends I would make and how many memories I would go on to create over the years. 💗 . Making videos with @atdattractions is so much fun – if you are visiting Orlando from the UK, these are the guys to go to for the best ticket deals and the friendliest service. There isn't much they don't know about theme parks, that's for sure! 🎢 . And thank you wonderful @universalorlando for supporting me and passportstamps.uk from the beginning and for hosting me over this week in #florida. You have literally provided me the set to star in my very own movie and it has been fantastic! I can't wait to get all the new content up on my site but before that I'm hitting CityWalk for a cocktail (or three) to toast to a most excellent, fun-packed week under the palms. 🌴☀️ #happyhappy #pstravels #readyforuniversal #work #palmtrees #sunset #instagood #travelvlogger
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